Journal entry 050511: The need to love

She said, “You’re perfect. You, the ball, and the diamond, you’re this perfectly beautiful thing. You can win or lose the game, all by yourself. You don’t need me.” It was Jane Aubrey’s breakup speech to professional baseball player Billy Chapel, in the 1999 movie For Love of the Game. She said it on the morning of his greatest game, even though neither of them knew it would also be his last game. It was a great movie, one of those movies I missed when it was first released.

It’s a movie about a hall-of-fame-bound pitcher who’s natural talents allowed him to remain in adolescence until he was 40 years old, when he finally realized he needed other people, specific people, to make his life meaningful. Before that moment, he didn’t need anyone, or at least, didn’t want to need anyone.

It feels and sounds noble to not need anything or anyone, to be self-sufficient, to not cause trouble for anyone, to be one-man-alone, to be low-impact and low-maintenance, but it comes at a high price. The best day of his career, not just best for him but best in the world of baseball, ended with Chapel sitting in his hotel room all alone, by himself. A high price for self-sufficiency

Watching the movie made me wonder, can you be in love with someone if you don’t need them? Is needing someone a prerequisite to being in love? I wonder how many people refuse to fall in love because they are afraid to be needy.

Allowing yourself to need someone means willful vulnerability. It means risk, and there can be no love without risk. If nothing is at risk, that’s just dating fun-and-games.

Of course, “loving” someone and being “in love” with someone are different relationships. As in, I can love you and take care of you and even sacrifice for you without being in love with you. However, I don’t think I can be in love with you unless I need you.

Does God love us without needing us? It’s hard to believe an omnipresent, omniscient God, total and complete in Himself , needs anyone or anything.. But in the Bible we read story after story about God coming after His people to give them more chances. Maybe He does need us? Or maybe He needs to love us?

How should we respond to God’s love? Some of us try to earn everything we receive, so we don’t really need any help. We can handle it all as long as we know the rules and expectations ... but that isn’t really about love, it’s about achievement. However, there is another possible response. Because of God’s grace, everything we need is freely given to us, which allows us to be dependent and vulnerable and needy. That opens the door to love.

It also describes a good marriage.

I know that For Love of the Game is just a movie about baseball and I’m probably laying too much of a burden on the story, but sometimes I get a movie in my head and it stays there for days, rolling around like Billy Chapel rolling a baseball in his hands. It happens to me when a movie taps into a bigger story than they know. It is that bigger, epic story that captures me.

So here is my own epic love story. I was feeling independent and self-sufficient, like most young men, and didn’t know I needed Cyndi, until I lost her. It was May 1978. Fortunately for me I was only 22 years old with plenty of years ahead of me to learn how to be needy. And now, 33 years later, it makes me happy to need her. Anything less wouldn’t be love.



“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32

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